UK 'whiplash capital of Europe'

The UK is now the "whiplash capital of Europe", according to insurers.

The Association of British Insurers is calling for a crackdown on fraudulent whiplash claims after it found that one out of every 140 people claims for such an injury each year.

It said ambulance chasing lawyers and claims management firms, along with staged "cash for crash" accidents, were driving up the number of claims as well as the cost ofcar insurance for honest motorists.

Around 1,200 whiplash claims are made in the UK every day, six times more than the number of people who claim for work-place related injuries each year.

Three-quarters of personal injury claims in the UK are for whiplash, the highest level in Europe.

The ABI estimates that the cost of whiplash claims adds around 20% or £74 to motor insurance premiums.

Speaking at the 2011 Whiplash conference in Leeds, James Dalton, the ABI's assistant director of motor and liability, said: "Despite the statistics I doubt that that the UK has some of the weakest necks in Europe.

"Often difficult to diagnose, easy to fake and exaggerate, whiplash is a fraudster's dream."

The ABI is calling on insurers, doctors and lawyers to form a partnership to help prevent whiplash and to improve its treatment, as well as cracking down on fraudulent claims.

It wants authoritative medical guidance on how to accurately diagnose and treat genuine whiplash to be developed, as well as raising consumer awareness about the importance of keeping a safe breaking distance between vehicles, as tailgating is the main cause of the injury.

Copyright © Press Association 2011